'R' number 'drops below 1 in the UK,' according to Covid study app

12 November 2020, 14:02 | Updated: 12 November 2020, 15:10

The COVID study app estimates more than half a million people currently have symptoms in the UK
The COVID study app estimates more than half a million people currently have symptoms in the UK. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

The reproduction 'R' rate of coronavirus may have dropped below 1 across the UK, scientists monitoring a COVID-19 study app have said.

Tim Spector, the principal investigator of the ZOE Covid symptom app, said its data had revealed on Thursday that the R number may have dropped to 0.9 across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, he added, the situation in the Midlands was "getting worse".

"We expect long lag before deaths drop," Mr Spector also warned in his update on Twitter. "Need to be wary of disease moving from population to hospital and care homes as happened in late spring."

READ MORE: UK Covid-19 deaths pass 50,000

The ZOE app, which tracks coronavirus throughout the UK and uses specialist analysis from scientists at King's College London, is not the provider of the official R number - but may provide an early idea of the effect extra restrictions have had.

According to current government data, the R number is actually between 1.1 and 1.3.

The latest data was released as the UK became the first country in Europe to surpass the grim milestone of 50,000 deaths to coronavirus.

This was after another 595 people died with the disease on Wednesday - the highest daily figure in months.

READ MORE: Economy bounces back 15.5% after spring coronavirus lockdown

Separate figures, meanwhile, published by the UK's statistics agencies for deaths when COVID-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with deaths reported in recent days, show this total toll is actually closer to 65,000 deaths involving the virus.

A further 22,950 lab-confirmed cases were also confirmed as of 9am Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 1,256,725.

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